Robert Anasi at The LA Times:
Time elides the complexity of icons. Almost 51 years after his death, Malcolm X has become a T-shirt superhero of African American militancy: Malcolm carrying a rifle, Malcolm “By any means necessary,” one hand raised above his bespectacled face.
Muhammad Ali's longer life and genius for self-creation has allowed him more roles, all equally oversimplified. There's brash Cassius Clay a.k.a. the Louisville Lip, fast-talking and self-described as “pretty,” jabbing circles around more stolid heavyweights; political Ali refusing induction into the Army during the Vietnam War with “I ain't got no quarrel with them Viet Cong”; “Rope-a-dope” Ali relying on endurance and guile in championship fights against Joe Frazier and George Foreman; and finally, the trembling figure disabled by Parkinson's who has become a genial stepfather to the world.
In “Blood Brothers,” Randy Roberts and Johnny Smith attempt to restore the men behind the myths by delving into their intense two-year friendship, a bond that altered both lives and affected those of millions of others. Armed with redacted FBI files and rare archival material, the historians challenge standard accounts of the friendship and use their revision to illuminate the moment when the civil rights era, anti-colonial struggles and the baby boomers' coming of age coalesced to reshape the world in ways that still resonate.